Pakistan must give their everything to win this year's T20 World Cup and bury the ghosts of the captaincy controversy, that’s the blunt message from Rashid Latif, one of the finest wicketkeepers the country has ever produced.

Latif says the senior players cannot afford to dwell on the past when they host New Zealand this month in a five-match T20 series, a key warm-up event ahead of this year’s ICC T20 World Cup in the US and the West Indies.

Pakistan cricket was hit hard by a captaincy controversy when Shaheen Shah Afridi was replaced by Babar Azam as captain of the white-ball team.

The star left-arm pacer was named limited overs captain after Babar had stepped down from captaincy following Pakistan’s poor performance in the World Cup last year.

But Shaheen was unceremoniously replaced after just one series at the helm as the Pakistan Cricket Board decided to bring Babar back as captain of the white-ball team.

Shaheen expressed shock and anger, even denying quotes attributed to him in a PCB statement following the change in captaincy before sharing a cryptic message on social media and leaving a training camp citing personal reasons.

Latif, a former Pakistan captain, hoped that Babar and Shaheen, the two best players in the team, would put the controversy behind them and give their best in the T20 series against New Zealand which starts on April 18.

“They have to start winning matches, they have no other option now. A T20 World Cup is coming up this year, so they need to find their best form as a team and start winning matches,” Latif told the Khaleej Times.

“We have a good team, good players. So to overcome this issue, the best way will be to win and if they can win the World Cup, it will be the perfect response from the team.”

Latif blamed the instability in the PCB for the captaincy fiasco.

“It all happened because the new chairman (Mohsin Naqvi) wanted to change the captain, he had already made changes in the selection committee. So all these constant changes create a lot of instability,” he said.

“Having said that this has always been a problem in Pakistan cricket. We have had so many chairmen, if you look at the history, from 1992 onwards, frequent changes have happened in the board, we have seen so many different captains as well.”

But Latif remains confident of Shaheen, who has also been battling to regain his top form, overcoming all the challenges to lead the Pakistan bowling attack.

“Look, form comes and goes. Shaheen is a proven performer at the highest level, I am sure he is soon going to find his top form,” he said.

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